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Baby Raccoons: Orphaned, Abandoned, or is the Mother Out Foraging to Feed the Babies?

By Sam Trull, Wildlife Vet Tech, Janine Licare, co-founder, & Jennifer Rice, President 

It is baby raccoon season!  We have recently gotten many calls about abandoned baby raccoons. If you have a raccoon in your roof or walls, please read this! 

Here are solutions on how to deal with raccoons:

Once you know how they’re getting in, find out if your unwanted guests happen to be a mother raccoon with young. If so, the best thing to do is wait a few weeks until the babies grow old enough to leave with their mother—they won’t survive without her.  (We have a mother and babies living in our roof and we have to wait until they are fully grown to shut the entrance they created in our roof.) 

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Please don’t try to trap and relocate the family yourself. It almost always leads to separation (and probably death) of the young raccoons. 

If you know that you are dealing solely with adults, you can start using humane techniques to get them to leave on their own. 

Start small. Gentle techniques may be all you need. Try bright lights, loud noises and unpleasant smells like mothballs or a bowl of cider vinegar, try combining techniques. Multisensory harassment works best: light, noise, and smell.  

Choose the right time—at dusk, right before the mother’s normal activity period. Don’t drive raccoons out during the day. Raccoons are primarily nocturnal, so they may be confused in daylight, and they are certainly more vulnerable. 

 Close all entries to keep them out

Convincing the raccoon to leave is only half the solution. The second step is to prevent raccoons (and other animals) from entering again. Many people put out a trap, catch the raccoon, and kill or relocate her. But unless you seal off entries into the house, there’s nothing to stop another animal from moving in. 

Never close an entryway until you’re absolutely certain all the raccoons have left. For your own and the raccoon’s safety, you don’t want to trap a raccoon or her young inside your house. 

Once you find possible points of entry, are sure no raccoons are inside, and have completed any necessary cleanup,cover all openings with heavy material, such as wire mesh, sheet metal, or metal flashing. The best wire mesh for the job is at least 16-gauge material (about 0.06 inches in diameter) with ½-inch openings. 

The fact is that raccoons, as a species, are doing very well in disturbed habitats. In fact they thrive on living in areas where humans live.  As a species, on the whole, they do not need our help.  However, sloths and monkeys, with smaller ranges, take longer to reach sexual maturity, have fewer babies, more complicated diets, stricter habitat requirements etc., do very much need our help or they might disappear from this earth entirely!   Our decision has to be based on what is better for the greater good.   

We have limited resources (staff, money, space).  Since we are a conservation organization, we have to make tough choices sometimes.  This means putting conservation of endangered species and the rain forest  over the welfare of an individual animal. 

 Currently KSTR cannot accept baby raccoons unless we have proof that they are orphaned (the mom is dead). 

We are not discriminating against raccoons as a species, but we are making it a hassle for people who are trying to get “rid” of them. 

Here is why we cannot blindly accept baby raccoons:

  1. It is not environmentally correct to separate them from their mothers.
  2. They are usually found in the roof or walls.   That is where their den is and the mom is probably out foraging for food.    We ask people to leave them alone and the mom will return.
  3. We currently are raising 5 baby raccoons and our rescue center and sanctuary is full. We have no more enclosures.
  4. Raccoons are MUCH more expensive to raise than a baby titi monkey or sloth.  Just the formula for each one is $100 a month for 6 months, that is $600, and we currently have 5 babies from hotels.  That is $3000, not including the enclosures they have to live in, the puppy chow, and the hours of care.  They have to be fed during the night and 5 raccoons require the manpower of two people.  We don’t have the resources to do this.   Already today, a donation that could have gone to our wildlife research and release program is going to formula for the raccoons.  
  5. We have to wash and dry 3 loads of laundry a day to clean their bedding! 

 Please be humane with the wildlife!  If you want more ideas on how to remove raccoons from your premises, look online under “getting raccoons out of the roof”.  We got some of the ideas from http://www.humanesociety.org/


5 Responses to “Baby Raccoons: Orphaned, Abandoned, or is the Mother Out Foraging to Feed the Babies?”

  1. anna hemm said:

    I have 2 young racoons in my yard anywheres between 6 and 10 am…..They are looking for bird food… why are they out in the day..? they look healthy… i do throw out some dry cat food… i am concerned for the safety of these 2 young kits


  2. Paul said:

    Thanks for caring for the wildlife! If you haven’t touched them already, please don’t. Most older babies play during the day while their nocturnal mom is catching a nap in a nearby tree.

    If you have touched them here is what to do:
    If necessary, PLEASE try everything to re-unite the baby with its mother before you end up stealing it away from her and do more harm than good. Even if you picked up the baby already and brought it home, it’s not too late to try to reunite the mom with her young.

    Baby raccoons found alone that appear healthy should be left for a few hours up to a full night to give their mother a chance to retrieve them just in case she became separated from her babies and will come back for them. However, the baby needs to be protected from predators and the elements.

    Please follow these steps:

    Step 1: Contain the babies (wear gloves!) in a bin that is too high for it to crawl out of. Or you can place a laundry basket upside-down over the baby with something heavy on top of it.

    Step 2: Give the baby a heat source by placing a water bottle filled with warm water and wrapped in a towel next to the baby. Exchange the water bottle frequently so the baby won’t get cold.

    Step 3: Leave upright containers open (no lid) in the area where the baby was found. If the baby is left during the day and there is no shade over the container, place a flat piece of cardboard over half of the container to give the baby shelter. Protect from rain.

    I cut and pasted this from a page, which you can do too: http://www.rainbowwildlife.com/baby-raccoons.html
    Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions: jennifer@kidssavingtherainforest.org
    Thanks

    Jennifer


  3. Linda mills said:

    Will a female racoon take care of another ones babies if something happens to the mother


  4. Karen said:

    I have two young raccoons in my yard, which backs up to a pond. They were out today and climbed a date palm to eat the fruit. They seemed to have napped there and just came down and wandered over to some grasses that are near the water. They scratched around in the ground… maybe for insects? How do I know if they are old enough to be on their own? They are only a little smaller than a small domestic cat.


  5. Dawn smith said:

    I had an adult raccoon eating an outside cats food sadly it was hit by a car. I just saw a small raccoon climbing down my tree and I’m not sure if it’s old enough to live on its own. I’m heartbroken to think it’s looking for mom. What should I do?